11 November 2014

Yra Harris On Official Swiss Objections To the Gold Referendum

Yra Harris cuts to the heart of the matter in addressing the objections, more like rationales, of the Swiss National Bank to the gold referendum coming before a vote of the Swiss people.

I like it because it more generally addresses some of the objections to gold as a reserve asset.

"In a Bloomberg article from Nov. 5 by Nicholas Larkin and Catherine Bosley, it is noted that the Swiss National Bank is very opposed to the Swiss voters passing the referendum calling on the SNB to retrieve all its gold from foreign depositories and also to be an active buyer to replenish previously sold gold reserves. Larkin and Bosley noted the referendum specifies that at least 20 percent of the SNB‘s total assets be held in gold from a present level of 8 percent.

The problem is magnified by the present policy that is holding the Swiss Franc at a floor of 1.20 to the euro. Since the 1.20 EUR/CHF policy was announced, the SNB‘s assets have expanded by more than one-third as the SNB has intervened in FX markets by selling Swiss francs and buying euros and other foreign currencies. If the SNB wishes to maintain this absurd policy it will have to buy much more gold if the referendum passes.

The SNB is presently selling a hard currency, the Swiss franc, and buying massive amounts of a problem plagued asset, the euro. The Swiss policy of holding the EUR/CHF at 1.20 will be proven a foolish endeavor if the ECB moves to a significant QE program. The Bloomberg article concludes with a concern of the Swiss Government that:
“…. the initiative’s [referendum] ban on gold sales would deprive the SNB of an asset should it find itself in dire straits. Several analysts share that view.” In putting forth more nonsense about the SNB having to purchase gold, Georgette Boele of ABN AMRO in Amsterdam says: “You hold gold in terms of an emergency that you can liquidate if you really need to.”
Let me reiterate the nonsense of this statement: 1. If the SNB had to liquidate in an emergency then gold, in fact, would be the most sought after asset of haven status in the world and its price would be at extremely elevated levels; and 2. You don’t have to sell your gold but rather create an asset-backed security using gold to borrow on a leveraged basis in the very liquid capital markets.

The SNB and Swiss authorities are evidently very nervous about the upcoming referendum because of the effect it will have on the EUR/CHF policy of the SNB. Buying gold would be the best policy for the entire Swiss nation for presently the policy of printing Swiss francs to purchase euros is patently absurd."

Yra Harris, Notes From Underground